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Don’t Forget the Mistletoe

Dec 07, 2016 03:25PM ● Published by Caitlin Marshall

The holidays bring out the best and the worst in relationships. New couples tend to revel in all the romance the season offers. Decking the halls together, buying their first Christmas tree, taking brisk night walks on illuminated city streets: for them the season seems new and tinged with magic. They cherish their first kiss under the mistletoe, and their first cups of hot cocoa while curled before a roaring fire.

Unfortunately, for many long-standing couples, instead of magic, the holiday is fraught with tension and anxiety. Holiday romance is furthest from their minds as they find themselves squeezed in the pressure cooker of family obligations and expectations, the stress of budgetary constraints when buying gifts, and the epic labor involved in hosting a large family gathering. Multiple studies have shown that established couples argue five times a day between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Many are so busy creating the picture-perfect holiday and attending to family members that they lose sight of their partner.

Holiday stresses can distance us from our significant other, leading to feelings of isolation, loneliness, and resentment that can fester long after the season has passed. Below is expert advice for reining in holiday mayhem and rekindling yuletide romance.

Compromise. The number one holiday disagreement is where to spend Christmas. Plan a fair compromise. If your in-laws live far away, alternate years for spending the holidays with them. If they live in town, split Christmas day in half. Strike a solution as close to 50-50 as possible.

Let go of the little things. Hectic schedules and financial pressures magnify trivialities, fueling squabbles that can easily escalate into serious arguments. Minor offenses you wouldn’t notice at any other time of year can become a battle royal. Recognize when your relationship is under siege from the holidays and hold your fire.

Don’t spend so much time on spending. Studies have shown that couples who most enjoy their holiday together spend the least time worrying about buying gifts. So, shift the emphasis from things to people, and from spending money to spending time. Give your entire family, especially your partner, more of your attention so that everyone feels part of the yuletide spirit.

Plan time alone. Sometimes you just have to stop worrying about everyone and everything else, and focus exclusively on your partner. Plan special, quality time alone during you holiday, then prioritize the occasion, guarding against potential interference and interruptions. Make the holiday experience enjoyable and memorable for them so they know they’re still the reason for the season.

Family, Acadiana Life, Lifestyle
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November / December Holiday Issue 2017